Alternatively Speaking

On Friday night, Kate and I were watching a show called What If, the premise of which is that Marvel has pretty much exhausted the ubiquitous iterations of its universe and in order to keep generating income, has resorted to a fantasy-like series that asks things like, “What if the dude from Black Panther was the dude from Guardians of the Galaxy instead?” or “What if Groot was a raccoon and instead of saying ‘I am Groot’, all he said was ‘I am Raccoon”?

Me: I have one. What about “What if Spiderman was bit by a badger instead, and then he would be Badgerman?
Kate: That’s ridiculous.
Me: No it’s not—think about it. Badgers can climb and they’re lightning quick. I bet they could catch thieves better than a spider could. Ooh, it says on google that their favourite food is earthworms. Badgerman, Badgerman, catches thieves just like worms, look out! Here comes the Badgerman.
Kate: Is his wife named Honey?
Me: Obviously, KATE.

And here’s another one: what if Batman and Robin were a couple?

Robin: Where are you going?
Batman: The bat signal is all lit up and whatnot.
Robin: Always with the damn bat signal. What about me?!
Batman: Here’s fifty dollars. Go buy yourself something pretty and I’ll take you out for dinner after I kill Superman.
Robin (under his breath): Like that’s going to happen.

Or…what if Aquaman couldn’t breathe underwater?

Aquaman: Help! (gurgles) Help!

It was a very short episode. But why have I been so bored that I’m inventing alternative superhero universes? Because Ken just got a new job. But wait, I hear you ask. Didn’t he just retire? Isn’t he supposed to be devoting all his energy to rebuilding the side porch? And the answer to both those questions would be yes. However, the other night he came skipping into the kitchen, very pleased with himself, because the local hot air balloon company—yes, THE LOCAL HOT AIR BALLOON COMPANY—had seen his application for ‘ground crew’ and he had a trial run the next morning at 6 am.

Me: Ok, but promise me you won’t get your foot tangled in the rope and then get dragged halfway across the countryside dangling in the air before falling into a pond.
Ken: I think maybe you saw that in a movie. But there are other people to untangle me if that happens.
Me: IF? You mean WHEN!

So the next morning, he left for his new job, and I lay in bed stressing that he might float away, or that the other balloon guys might be mean to him, or that he would get lost taking one of his ‘shortcuts’, or any number of other worst case scenarios. Of course, none of that happened, and he came home excited because the owner had given him the balloon handbook and now he was an official member of the crew, which meant twice a day, weather permitting, he helps set up the balloon, chases it in the crew van, then packs it away. And while he’s enjoying his new-found employment, I’m feeling the pressure to get a cool new job too when I retire in 3 weeks, especially since I reached out to James Gunn about my idea for a Suicide Squad sequel featuring my superhero Heavy Metal, and he has yet to respond. Alternatively, maybe something where I get to drive a forklift…


54 thoughts on “Alternatively Speaking

  1. I love the fact that Ken has to chase a balloon across the countryside. It’s like throwing a Frisbee & then legging after it to catch it before it lands. Or a dog that can throw its own stick.
    We’re currently camping next to the Dordogne & there are a few balloon companies here (or Montgolfiers, as they prefer to be called, to differentiate from people who make squeaky rubber poodles). All the rivers & hills around here must be a right pain for the chasers.
    Keep us informed of Ken’s chases & whether they get to jump in the van & shout “follow that balloon” like a bizarre movie chase.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is what retirement is about: chasing balloons. I’d also hope that Ken gets to take the occasional trip up as a benefit of his new job but if you’re worried the rest of the crew will be mean to him I don’t know what concerns him ascending might prompt. Still, what better way to enjoy time off than literally going up?
    And I feel like your writing career is taking off, which is a cool thing because writing is a careee you never retire from, and I really want to know more about Badgerman. Who would be his nemesis? Someone who says “Badgers? We don’t need no stinkin’ badgers!”

    Liked by 4 people

    • They were actually very nice to him, and yes, apparently if there’s an imbalance in the basket, one of the guys can be ballast! The Badger’s nemesis is The Dachshund, a short, German Gruber-esque mastermind!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Like….WOW! Ken has the coolest retirement job, ever!
    I agree with Christopher, retirement should be about chasing balloons after a life if working hard to get to that point. I haven’t watched the “What If” series, it doesn’t sound like it would be interesting to me. And after the synopsis you gave, it seems my instincts were right, lol. But now, no pressure for you to find a great job after you retire. Maybe you could work part time in a warehouse to work the forklift 😎😁.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. barbaramullenix says:

    What are the possible qualifications to be in the ground crew? And why was he posting a ‘resume’ days after retiring? Don’t forget I told you they have those baby fork lifts in warehouses (and storage places).

    Liked by 2 people

  5. google: “balloons powerline accidents”
    Avoiding death by electrocution and fire: it’s like a Mission Impossible task but without the Scientology.

    Maybe you should drop your own resume’ out there: Seeking paranormal research assistant position. Any takers would be great background for your next story or three.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Luckily the pilot is super-experienced. They got yelled at yesterday by a farmer who didn’t want them landing in his field! And I love the idea of paranormal research assistant—part time only though. After all, I’m retired!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You know…. having a part-time job in something you enjoy could be kind of fun, especially if you’re retired and don’t really need to work. My husband has talked about that too. That’s the trouble with being a writer… we never retire.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Not sure why the conversation between Robin and Batman reminded me of other conversations between you and Ken. Obviously, you’re Batman…
    And I love hot air balloons, although they tend to leave at some ungodly hour of the morning…

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Ken’s job is so cool. We used to have a couple of balloons in our area but it’s been years since I have seen any. Back in the early “80’s a friend and I went for a ride in one. It was glorious. The best way to fly.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Sadly I admit missing MCU so much I’m actually watching What If and I don’t normally do cartoons. I know they aren’t called that, but really? Just finished the way too long series “Handmaid’s Tale”which is one of M A novels I didn’t read way back when. It is then most depressing series I have ever seen. However it may come to fruition🤯 Kens new job is certainly a reason for skipping, congrats! Batman and Robin theory is way too enlightened for the DC universe.😄 Have a good week!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. That job sounds like a dream! Love it! DC versus Marvel. Oh the possibilities! My son would have a conniption fit if he heard that conversation. I haven’t watched what if but my son was excited for it. I thought it would be real people, not a cartoon.

    Liked by 2 people

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